Saturday, June 13, 2015

That meeting!

As described in the last few posts, I was more than a little apprehensive about meeting a thirteen year old lad that had read the raw script of 'Elementals', and was prepared to give me his opinions. (I thought he was twelve but I was quickly corrected). The meeting was set for 1pm, the venue... McDonalds. Having bundled my own twelve year old daughter into the car, (moral support for me yes, but I also thought it would be less daunting for the lad, Cabe. And, my daughter would never pass up the opportunity of a McD's treat). All the usual thoughts were chasing each other around in my head.. 'what if he didn't like it?', 'did the story make sense?', 'Georgie Pie or Angus burger?'... I checked the digital display on the dashboard of the car, 1249; looking around the carpark I watched for people, searching for the familiar face of Cabe's father, but saw no-one. Now I started feeling a little anxious, 'bugger, what if they don't turn up?'. A quick text, 'Hi mate, am in the McD's carpark.." send, 

With the radio tuned to a local station, music and chat broadcasting inside the car, my daughter was unaware of just how important this meeting was to me, or maybe she was aware and had worked out that it wasn't important to her, or at least not as important as a Mack'ers. She was just happy singing along to the tunes. Nervously I watched the front of the screen of my mobile, willing it to light up, vibrate and herald the arrival of a response to my text. It's an interesting phenomena that, at times like this, it take hours for the digital clock just to change one digit, well that's what it seemed like.

Finally, the response comes through, 'Cool, we are inside.' It was time to face the truth...

New Zealand is a very sports orientated country. It doesn't matter how diverse the sport is, everyone is actively encourage to participate in some sport or other, especially the young. Saturday mornings are all about sports; up and down the country there are hundreds of thousands of youngsters throwing a ball, catching a ball, kicking a ball or belting it with a bat or stick of some description. And, it would seem that after playing the sport, hundreds of thousands of youngster head straight for a fast food fix! The place was packed. Had I known at that time that Cabe had a full head of red hair I would have used a different search criteria as I scanned the masses. The very fine wisps of hair that his father had gave no clue of this distinctive feature of his son. 

I'm not a fan of crowds; it's more of a psychological thing than anything else, but crowds make me nervous, uncomfortable and put me on edge. I'm not talking about freaking out and running for the door type nervous, more the case of heightened senses, fixed pupils, constant scan mode type nervous. So, here I am, surrounded by thousands, if not dozens, of youngsters, still hyped up from their game, demanding their reward from the parent, grown up or big sister that has been their morning chaperon. I'm looking for a man and his lad secreted somewhere in the sea of young faces, my palms are starting to sweat, I can't spot them. Another people carrier parks up, unloading a stream of nine year-olds dressed in a football kit, yelling with excitement at their arrival. They enter the establishment like a herd of stampeding wildebeest which seems to start a whole new competition with the incumbent children; who can scream loudest! 

At that very moment I'm thinking 'Yeah, nah.' time to leave, except I can't, my daughter has been promised a McD's, dammit. Reality strikes, I have to stay. The 5-star badge totting young woman behind the counter announces an order number, "225" she shouts.  And then, from the crowds of impatient, hyper-active kids appears Steve, the dad of the critic I was due to face.

It took five minutes or so for us all to be sat at the table with our orders, and it was my turn to be impatient. In hindsight I probably should have discussed the weather or something more appropriate to allow Steve and his wife to be part of the conversation, but in my head I just wanted to know Cabes thoughts about 'Elementals'. If I could I would of tried the Vulcan mind meld (Spock always made it look so cool!), I wanted, needed, to extract every piece of feedback from the brain of this thirteen year old - but sticking your thumb and fingers in strategic positions on the face of a thirteen year boy, in the middle of McD's, probably would have been cause for a call to the police, or a punch from his father - definitely one of the two. So, we conversed. Using all of my skills and experience of the sales techniques; I asked open questions, closed questions and confirmation questions. For the next hour it was all about 'Elementals' - it was great, I loved it. 

Cabe made some very valid points; he highlighted a couple of areas where the adult trying to be the kid hadn't quite worked, hadn't quite managed to resonate with the target age group. For me, this was priceless, total gold. Marks out of ten for the story? I got an eight. Happy with that bearing in mind the changes needed. For the characters? I got a nine!!! Cabe - Thank you!! (and your mum & dad too). It is definitely something that I'm doing again, such a worthwhile exercise for me, and I think Cabe enjoyed it aswell. 

What happens next? Well, I'll spend today making the required changes and then it's off to Judy at ProofreadNZ to start the editing process. Finances willing, 'Elemetals' will be out for Christmas.


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